A substitute teacher was arrested this week on suspicion of inappropriately touching five girls in the fifth-grade class he was teaching at Cloverland Elementary School earlier this month.
The Oakdale Police Department started investigating the incident Sept. 4 when school officials reported that five girls, ages 10 and 11, were inappropriately touched by substitute teacher Bryan Thies, 48, according to Oakdale Police Chief Lester Jenkins.
Officials say the incident occurred during the class Thies was substitute teaching Aug. 29.
Detectives tried to contact Thies at his Modesto home last week, but he would not return messages and did not answer his door, Jenkins said.
Monday morning, his attorney contacted police and Thies surrendered at the Oakdale Police Department.
In the case of two of the girls, Thies was charged with two counts of felony lewd and lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14. The accusations involving the other three girls resulted in misdemeanor charges of annoying or molesting a child under the age of 18.
In 2003, Thies had a multiple-subject teaching credential, and in 2004 added a supplementary credential for junior high or freshman high school English, but neither is listed as current by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
The commission suspended Thies’ credential from March 9-15, 2008. The Oakdale Leader newspaper reported that the suspension stemmed from an incident in Merced of “immoral or unprofessional conduct.”
Also listed by the commission are emergency substitute teaching permits, granted to Thies every year since 2009, allowing him to be hired for no more than 30 days for any one teacher during a school year.
Thies substituted for many of the districts across Stanislaus County until 2011, when he was removed from the county Office of Education’s substitute list, said Barbara Tanner, division director of human resources.
“As I recall, it had to do with too many exclusions ... when a district says, ‘We do not want that substitute back,’” Tanner said.
She said she did not remember any reports of improper behavior. “Usually it’s just that the person’s not a good fit with that district,” she said.
The county office fills substitute lists for 18 of the county’s 25 districts, and substitutes are generally removed if half of the districts do not want a sub back, she said.
Oakdale Unified has its own substitute list.
Oakdale Unified School District notified parents of the substitute teacher’s arrest by phone and online Tuesday.
“Please be assured that our students’ safety is of utmost importance to us; this substitute teacher is no longer employed by our district,” the message said.
Thies appeared in court Wednesday afternoon, but his arraignment hearing was postponed until Monday. He was being held at the Stanislaus County Jail on $100,000 bail, but he was no longer in custody as of Thursday morning.
Bee Education Reporter Nan Austin contributed to this report.